Abell Planetary Nebulae Observations by Eric Honeycutt

Originally published at http://www.icplanetaries.com/abell.html (broken link). Mirrorfile shown here with Eric's permission

Abell 01: 47/118/216x& O-III: -If I just got here tonight (Pamlico Sound site), set up, observed Abell 1, and then drove 4 hrs home, I could honestly say that it was all worth it. After 4 long years of searching for this object with the 22" Starmaster, tonight I have my come-uppance! After spending 25 minutes in complete darkness, I went to the 22mm Nagler with a strange nervousness. Would this be the night... or would I be set for disappointment once again? This poor starfield has been etched in my memory so I wasted no time in finding the field. 118x, an O-III filter, and myself underneath a velveteen observing shroud finally knew the sweet victory over this elusive SOB! Abell 1 was visible. I observed it within the first 30 seconds at the eyepiece. "Can't be...it was all too quick" but I knew this field all too well and what I was seeing just above threshold was never there before. A roundish, 45" pool of light was visible with averted vision in an unpopulated starfield in Cassiopeia (and I could hold it with averted vision). 47x and 216x did not aid observation but I did glimpse it at 216x at least twice. Out of the 82 PNe (a few are speculated to be other than PNe) in the Abell catalogue, this one and Abell 47 had never been seen by these 20/15 eyes. Yet in a moment of almost humorous ease, there he was...It is times like this that the amateur truly lives for!! The object is very difficult but that is highly relative to past experience in this case. I can die now...

Abell 02: This PNe is a relatively bright,  circular glow at 118x and O-III. Grey in color, it has no surface features except for a small "bite" taken out of wnw edge. Relatively easy to pick out from starfield and could certainly hold with direct vision though slightly.20 mag CS obviously not detected.

Abell 03:  Incredibly faint PNe. Object lies between a 9th and 10th mag star. Discernable only as a very faint haze w/ O-III at 74x with no features. Extremely difficult!

Abell 04:  Moderately faint, medium sized PNe that has an even, circular shape at 118x and O-III.. Lies just 3'-4' nw of 12th mag star. Rather featureless.

Abell 05:  A faint ring with 118x and and an O-III. Takes a bit to find it but pretty easy once spotted. Ring structure is evident. Stars are visible within nebby. Difficult.

Abell 06: Another very difficult PNe. Takes time and much patience and close scrutiny. 2 bright 7th and 8 mag stars point directly to Pn. Very large and super-faint circular glow with no distinguishable details whatsoever.

Abell 07: Plate Flaw (Notes on amastro about my apparent “observation” J:
I remembered that this one caused me a lot of grief in the past. On every occasion prior to the year 2000, I observed nothing at this location. Yet on one cold night, I was sure I was beginning to get hints of an extremely faint, 45" glow in the position that you mentioned. That night was an
extremely cold (5 degrees F with a constant 15 mph wind) & I was fatigued and really didn't even enjoy myself after 4 or 5 hours. Since then, I have revisited this one visually at least 5 times and have spent an appreciable amount of time on it. I pretty much came to the conclusion that my
observation was imagined and this was not an object that can be seen in anything less than a 25" scope - and that was over 2 years ago. There are 3 more that I am questioning myself as well out of the list (Abell 1 not being one of them). So if this is a plate fault, what are we down to now for true
Abell PNe, 79 out of the original 86?

Abell 08: 18x/216x and O-III: I was informed that the visual magnitude for this object is 17.6. However, I question if that is correct. The Pn is very fain but not too difficult to observe. Object is somewhat round with a very faint glow coming off of GSC2895:159. Was not visible at 118x but very faintly detected at 216x. No detail discerned.

Abell 09: 118x and O-III: Not included in the SEC.

Abell 10: Moderately bright and round PNe. Easy find w/ O-III at 118x. Hints of internal darkening. Faint field star to the south.


Abell 12: Bright PNe just 2' wnw of Mu Orionis. Egg-shaped object w/ hints of internal darkening. Mu Orionis floods the Pn with light making it difficult to observe. However, at 216x and an O-III filter employed, internal darkening is glimpsed.

Abell 13: 118x and O-III: Another very difficult object. Averted vision only. Could only glimpse Pn a few times but could not hold with averted vision. Round in nature but again, very difficult to observe.

Abell 14: 118x/216x/288x and O-III: Quite faint PNe but held with averted vision through Pierre's 24" Starmaster. Somewhat elongated in a tough starfield. Possible internal darkening but not sure and could not hold.

Abell 15: 328x and O-III: I located precise field through Pierre's 24 Goto. After a few minutes, we began to notice some faint (faint b/c of O-III)14th - 15th mag stars surrounding area where Pn should be. After finding my "averted vision sweet-spot", I began to notice a very weak circular glow. I could not hold Pn with averted vision but I could get it back over and over every few moments as seeing conditions changed. Very difficult. Pierre confirmed as well.

Abell 16: 118x and O-III: A faint and semi-large glow with possible annularity (at least has internal mottling). Sparse starfield but just 2' to 3' NE of 9th mag star. Difficult. No CS detected.

Abell 17: 118x and O-III: A faint, evenly lit oval at 118x that took some time to confirm. Populated starfield, fatigue, and wind chills made for a difficult confirmation but once observed, I could hold object with averted vision. Difficult. No annularity or other features detected.

Abell 18: 118x/216x and O-III: Suspected an extremely faint oval once or twice but could not hold with averted vision. I feel confident that I observed it but I could not get it back after first one or two observations. Very tough!!

Abell 19: 118x/216x/376x/501x and O-III: Previously undetected before Jan 2002. Visible on this fine, transparent night in mid January with little problem in 24" GoTo. No details visible at all but a distinct ghostly round glow is apparent with averted vision only.

Abell 20: 118x/216x and O-III: An obvious to dim, direct vision object found readily 15 degrees SW of SAO115387 (7.9 mag). Oblong and diffuse with interesting internal darkening and motteling. Pn is split in its northern section into a possible "m" shaped star pattern. Starfield is sparse. Not difficult but somewhat faint. Impressive.

Abell 21: Very large and highly crescent-shaped Pn with fantastic detail. Looks like photos, just a bit fainter. Filaments (snakes) are evident along with intricate lacing. Southern portion is the brightest w/ a dark division b/tw it and the northern section. What a great object!!

Abell 22: 74x/118x/162x/216x and O-III: Abell 22 is an oval, weak glow with western edge touching a 12.4 mag star. Except for NE and E being a little brighter, glow is even. 8th mag star lies to NNE which interferes with glow. Best view is at 118x but Pn is visible at all powers mentioned. No CS detected. Pretty faint but not difficult. Found object immediately.

Abell 23: 74x/118x/216x and O-III: PNe nearly 1 degree in diameter visible with averted vision. Little problem picking it up out of the starfield. Low in the sky but visible just with direct vision but could only hold steady with averted. Central star not discerned.

Abell 24: 74x/118x and O-III: Object found relatively quickly though it is quite faint. Forms a large equilateral triangle with two stars of 5.7 and 5.8 mag. (perfect traingle it is not but close). Found Pn by moving scope on and off field. Glow shines just brighter than background sky and I speculate that if conditions were even just a bit worse, it would not be visible. Thought I glimpsed internal darkening, even annularity but just not sure. No CS detected.

Abell 25: Observed this one at a dark sky site that is merely adequate for serious deep sky work. At 118x and an O-III filter, a very faint Pn is discerned. Took some time but I found it using Megastar and interfacing it with my Sky Commander. No detail is visible. Pn is a a large (2.8') and grey, circular glow.

Abell 26: 118x/216x/376x: Small and very faint PNe just above threshold. Could not hold with averted vision but could reacquire 75% of the time. Probably round in nature but unsure. Spent some time on this one. No CS visible.

Abell 27: 74x/118x/216x and O-III: Another very faint PNe visible just above background sky. Seemingly elongated but only slightly (not sure about this). Averted vision object with no detail whatsoever. 13.9 CS visible.

Abell 28: 74x and O-III: After 30 minutes of trying to identify the exact star field, I finally was able to detect an extremely faint and large, circular glow. This was a very difficult observation but as many times with very faint dsos, once I knew I was in the exact spot, it popped into view. Field is sparse of stars, making it difficult to confirm. Once found, I could hold with averted vision.

Abell 29: 74x/118x and O-III: Just about gave up on this one. However, I finally begn to notice a large and very faint oval. 74x worked best. Thought I glimpsed annularity in a moment of good seeing but possibly my imagination. Located in a loose grouping of 5 8th thru 11th mag stars. Very difficult.

Abell 30: 118x and O-III shows this object to be a very dim, circular glow just on the edge of threshold vision. The conditions are not as good as they could be from this site however. Central star is visible as a 14.3 mag point (though not to be confused with the 13.8 nag star also within the Pn).East of an arc of two stars which point to the object.

Abell 31: 74x and O-III reveals a moderately dim and large planetary. A 10th mag star is near the CS. At first glance, the Pn appears oblong but closer scrutiny shows that the object is large and round. 118x shows this 10th mag star to be on the eastern edge. A 12.6 mag star lies just to the NW. CS is difficult to detect b/c of the many faint 15th mag stars in the vicinity though I am sure I observed it (just not sure which one it is).


Abell 33: (Previously observed on April 13-14, 1999 with and 8" reflector from Angier, NC; see notes). At 118x and O-III, this is a moderately bright and very large Pn. It is an oval ring whose annularity is quite evident. The Pn hugs a 7th mag star to its south that does interfere w/ observation. Very faint field stars are superimposed on the ring (or behind the ring?). No CS detected b/c of apparent bad seeing.

Abell 34: 74x and O-III: This large and rather dim Pn was not too hard to locate. Just NW of a triangle of 9-11th mag stars. This Pn exhibited some annularity but it is not obvious. Best seen at low power. A nice arc of 3 14+ mag stars runs through the planetary.

Abell 35: Large, faint, and round Pn at 118x and O-III. A bright CS is quite obvious and easily held with direct vision. No structure is evident. Lies NE of a 9.2 mag star.

Abell 36: At 74x and an O-III employed, Pn is found to be relatively faint  and it has a prominent CS at 11.5(v). Object is round with a radial pattern within the disk. The pattern seems to spiral outward from the CS. Nice.

Abell 37: Also designated IC 972, this Pn is a moderately bright and round planetary with no obvious features at 216x and O-III filter. Smooth disk with no CS evident;. Nice object and rather small for most of Abell catalogue. Lies roughly 1.5' NE of 6.4 mag star.

Abell 38: 74x and O-III reveals a very dim, circular glow. Took some time to finally confirm it but once found, not too hard to hold. No detail is visible. Difficult to distinguish from the background sky. Large (92").

Abell 39: 74x and O-III reveals a large and dim Pn. Annularity is seen with averted vision and a nice ring presents itself after a few minutes. CS is at 15.6 and is possibly detected but unsure this night. Nice!

Abell 40: 74/118x and O-III: Extremely faint Pn that possibly takes the shape of a disk. I could not hold the object steady with averted vision. It would come in and out of view while I shook the scope and scanned the field. 74x worked best. Starfeild easy to find.

Abell 41: 74x/118x and O-III: Very faint. Disklike. Could not hold with averted vision. Easy starhop from recognizable rectangle of stars. Took 30+  mins. to correctly confirm. No detail nor CS visible. (Addendum: this object escaped my observation in June. DSS photo is deceiving for gauging brightness).

Abell 42: 118x/216x and O-III: Very faint PNe visible just above threshold sky and averted vision only. No details but roundish in nature. Just a feeble glow requiring excellent conditions to observe (previously unsuccessful before 2001). Spent 2+ hrs on this one.

Abell 43: 74/118/216x and O-III: Once the correct starfield was found, the fairly dim Pn came into view. Very round and featureless that  is grey in color. Just NW of a 11th mag star. Disk may not be totally round but very difficult to discern. 216x showed object best. Direct vision object.

Abell 44: 118x and O-III shows Pn to lie just 4 to 5 minutes west of OC N6645. Sits between 2 arcs of 9-11th mag stars. Doesn't pop out at you but close scrutiny reveals it with not too much problem. A 12th mag star lies on western edge. Averted vision object! Difficut with no features that appears oval but unsure.

Abell 45: 74/118x and O-III: Extremely difficult Abell. Very difficult to discern from the background sky but every now and then a large, circular glow would fade in and out with averted vision. Doesn't seem totally circular however. One of the harder Abell Pns.

Abell 46: 118x/216x: O-III reveals a relatively faint disk. A dark region, possibly annularity  seems to reside w/in the Pn but not sure. Sparse starfield. Pn lies roughly .5 of a degree NE of a triad of 7th and 8th mag stars. Higher power dose not help.

Abell 47: 74x/118x/216x and O-III: After many unsuccessful attempts at this small PNe, I was finally able to observe this one, which completed the entire catalogue for me. Higher power proved useful here (376x) along with the O-III. In a faint region of field stars, Abell 47 ws just detected above threshold with averted vision only. The transparency was superb as were the seeing conditions. No detail visible other than an roundish pool of light.

Abell 48: 74x/118x and O-III: Not difficult once found. Could see object pretty easily with averted vision once object was located. In a pretty starfield. Object
shines with that distinct Pn light. Possible disk. No detail.

Abell 49: 118x and O-III: Easy starfield makes observation not too difficult. Object is quite faint while circular to oval. Possible annular structure but just
not sure. Central darkening seemed to exist. Medium to small in size.

Abell 50: 216x and O-III shows a relatively bright , medium sized disk. Averted vision seems to reveal a dark spot near center but not sure. 14th mag star lies just east of Pn.

Abell 51: Incredibly faint Pn at 74x and O-III filter employed. Just detected above background sky. Took some time even though I found the field quickly. Could not hold with averted vision but Pn did feebly glow in and out. 1' diameter and seemingly circular. Very difficult.

Abell 52: 118x and O-III: Faint, medium-size Pn. Pretty difficult but readily observable when found. Easy id with starfield. No detail except a disk which
was pretty obvious. Maybe central darkening??

Abell 53: 74x/118x/216x and O-III: Very, very faint glow. 74x worked best out of 118x and 216x. Stayed on field for quite awhile without noticing anything. Soon however, a very soft glow could just be detected with averted vision. Possibly a true disk was first impression but simply unsure.

Abell 54: 118x/216x and O-III: I began to notice a faint, circular glow after about 20 mins of trying for it. 216x helped a little bit but object still barely
visible above dark, background sky. Could just hold with averted vision. Difficult.

Abell 55: 118x/216x and O-III: Relatively easy find. Pn is a medium-faint, 40" disk that can be held with averted vision as well as direct vision. Averted
vision shows a possible ring. Not sure if hole is truly round but definite internal darkening. Not difficult.

Abell 56: 118x and O-III: Once starfield was identified, I found this Pn to be large, very faint with internal darkening. Possible annularity. Forms an "L"
shape with a 5.1 and 7.2 mag star. Starfield is nice as stars are superimposed on Pn. Pretty difficult but not too tough with O-III

Abell 57: 74x/118x and O-III:  Observed a very small, circular glow that was just barely visible in contrast above the background sky. I definitely could not hold the Pn with averted vision and it would only fade in and out every few moments but definitely there. Pn lies just NW of 10.2 mag star.

Abell 58: 74x/118x and O-III: Not as difficult as Abell 56 but still quite faint. Relatively small, 40" disk with no internal features other than 3
superimposed stars within nebulous glow.

Abell 59: 216x and O-III: Easy to find correct field as it is located just SW of 6.1 mag star SAO 104711. Pn is very difficult - mainly b/c of glare from
star throwing too much light into the eyepiece. However, close scrutiny began to reveal a graceful arc that was apparently the brightest edge of a disk. No further detail whatsoever. Nice arc!

Abell 60:  118x/216x and O-III: Faint and averted vision object only. Only visible with O-III. Lies 2' north and northwest of a chain of 12th and 13th mag stars.
Circular to oval with no features visible.

Abell 61: 118x and O-III: Object is just on the threshold of direct vision but really comes out with averted vision. 118x shows a dim glow that is not quite circular. Internal darkening is obvious with averted vision though annularity is not certain. Rather large. Difficult to initially locate but not difficult to observe.

Abell 62: 118x and O-III: Relatively faint, oval patch of light. Not too difficult to discern shape. Very pretty starfield surrounds Pn. Large hole visible
within the center of Pn. Annularity comes out rather easily with some time spent at eyepiece. Not very difficult.

Abell 63: 118x and O-III: Very faint, medium sized Pn. Oval in shape once found but difficult to observe wih averted vision. Starfield is not populated
well for being in the Milky Way. Faint stars superimposed on Pn, including CS. Difficult.

Abell 64: 74x/118x and O-III: Very faint and difficult Pn. More oval than circular with no distinguishing features. Little reaction to O-III. Lies to the NW of an "L" shaped asterism of stars ranging from 10th to 11th mag. Difficult.

Abell 65: 74x and O-III: Large and relatively dim Pn but an easy find. Pn displays a "curving oval" shape or an oblong patch of light with the edges turned down. Stars in field make for pretty observation. CS not observed (did not try without the O-III).

 Abell 66: 74x and O-III: Very large and very faint Pn. Took some time to correctly identify the starfield but once I found it, it began to reveal itself as a very large and featureless glow. It may have been round but I am just not sure. Could not hold with averted vision. Surface brightness is incredibly low and the size makes it difficult to successfully confirm it. It helps to move scope on and off field.

Abell 67:  118x/216x and O-III: Fairly faint circular glow with O-III. Possible internal darkening or annularity but not sure. Relatively sparse starfield.

Abell 68: 118x/216x/376x and O-III: Relatively small, roundish disk at 118x just above threshold. No discernable features prevalent though undoubtedly a disk. Seen with averted vision only this night. Best view comes at 216x. Central star shines at a respectable 13.2 magnitude and is visible with O-III filter. Starfield is a little sparse for this area of the Milky Way.

Abell 69: 74x/118x/216x/376x and O-III: Superfaint and small (42") PNe visible just above threshold. Seemingly not round but possibly box shaped. No internal features exist. Best seen at 216x. Averted vision object only and seen only 60% of the time but could reacquire over and over. Object moved with the field as the scope was pulled on and off field. 2 hrs on this one.

Abell 70: Faint glow found @ 162x. No detail readily apparent w/ O-III. Further study brings out subtle annularity. At 508x, ring shape comes out with subtle knots, brightening on its northern, southern edges mostly. An extension seen in DSS images is believed to be a distant, uncatalogued galaxy shining through the Pn. 15 +/- mag stars surround Pn. O-III enhances knots. Annularity visible with averted vision. Requires time spent at eyepiece. Central Star not visible this night.

Abell 71: At 118x and an O-III, Abell 71 is a very faint haze, barely distinguishable from the background sky. It is a large/circular glow w/ many field stars in and around the object. Lies just north of 4 9 to 10th mag stars that form a line pointing right to it. Difficult object.

Abell 72: This Pn is a large, circular glow at 188x and an O-III. There are 4 stars that form a keystone pattern around the nebby. The star on the nw corner is faint compared to the other 3. There are also a few faint stars that lie 'within' the Pn as well. Possible central hole detected.

Abell 73: 118x and O-III: This Pn is an incredibly faint and weak glow with averted vision only. It shines just above the glow of the background sky. Knowing the field from a previous attempt a few months back, I quickly located the precise position. Within a few minutes, a large, faint, amorphous glow become apparent. Possibly detected CS with O-III on but did not try with it off (need to keep my head down and get this catalogue completed). Very difficult.

Abell 74: 74x/118x and O-III: A dim to faint Pn that is only seem with averted vision. First used 118x and I began to notice a very large yet weak glow. Seemed circular though could not make out entire annularity. 74x revealed object a little better but still with averted vision. Object is a large ring with only segments visible, faintly glowing above the background sky. Difficult.

Abell 75: 216x and an O-III filter show a relatively faint and incomplete disk. PN touches a faint star on its west side (which appears as a bright knot w/ O-III). 14th to 15th mag stars lie to n and ne. Hints of internal darkening - possible dumbbell w/ averted vision and moments of steady seeing.


Abell 77: This very faint and very large Pn is just discernable as a circular glow that is barely distinguishable from the background sky. Faint 13 - 14 mag stars lie within the line-of-sight as the Pn. Central hole possible. Very difficult!

 Abell 78: 74x/118x/216x and O-III: Readily found at 74x. Quickly noticed a 13th mag CS. Pn is more oblong than round. 118x shows nebulosity the best but 216x reveals internal darkening much better. No annularity detected. 12.5 mag star just off the eastern edge. Not difficult.

Abell 79: 118x and O-III shows a faint, oblong haze w/ a possible central hole. The Pn is located in a very pretty star field (even with O-III). Faint 15 mag stars lie to north w/ a 14th mag star to the east. So. portion is brightest in this medium sized Pn (possibly a faint star superimposed on the Pn).

Abell 80: 74x/118x216x and O-III: 118x was the best view. I had a little trouble with this one as the Pn's surface brightness is very low. After a few minutes, a 1.5' circular glow began to glow above the background sky. Nice starfield. Difficult.

Abell 81 (IC 1454): 216x and O-III shows this PN as a moderately faint ring. Central hole is easy. Very faint 14+ mag star is located s of Pn. 13 mag star lies to west. W/out a filter shows PN to be in an extremely faint starfield.

Abell 82: This moderately faint Pn lies just due south of a 13th mag star. It is almost invisible w/o O-III at 216x but CS is visible. A brighter 12 mag star is only 20" away and can be mistaken for true CS. O-III really brings out the Pn's circular glow.

Abell 83:  74x/118x/216/376x and O-III: This one has given me a difficult time in the past so obviously the incredible transparency is the reason for the successful observation. Observed through Pierre's 24" Starmaster, this PNe is a faint, roundish glow with a slight hint of a dark center. Not visible with direct vision but could hold 100% of the time with averted vision. Found within the first 20 seconds of being on the field. Disk is 42" in diameter making it small for the majority of the Abells. No CS detected.

Abell 84: 118x and O-III show a large and moderately faint glow that is oblong in shape. 12th mag star lies on Pn ene edge. Internal darkening is possible but difficult to detect. Brightness is even except for an ill-defined edge on wnw.


Abell 86: 118x and O-III: This one gave me some problems. The correct starfield was easy to identify. However, it took 15 minutes to certainly confirm the observation. A very faint glow was just visible south of a pyramid shaped asterism and north of a chain of 3 10th and 11th mag stars. Circular in shape with no detail visible. Difficult.

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